You know that slightly awkward moment when you see someone needs guidance but they haven’t actually asked you for it and you don’t want to be that person who’s all ‘you know your website could do with a lot of help’ because it seems frankly salesy and cheesy?
Yeah, I feel like that a lot. If I know the person well then I’ll usually be frank and say something but if I don’t then I’ll probably just bite my tongue to be polite. Now, I’m about to write this blog post on the five most common mistakes! I don’t have to say anything – simply send the link to my BLOG! See? Win win, right?
In no order of importance (they are all important!);
1. Treating your website like a static ‘set and forget’ entity. You’ve put love and attention into your new website, you’ve probably spent money having someone build it for you and you’re super excited to show it off to the world. Quite right too. Don’t fall into the ‘new toy’ syndrome trap of forgetting it exists after a fortnight though. Keep it updated. Blogs are perfect for this. It gives you a new reason each time to direct people to your site as well as giving you the added bonus of Google leverage because Google likes stuff that’s updated regularly. It’s also important to remember that most people who visit your website are not yet ready to buy. It sucks to admit but it’s true. They are usually in information gathering mode. This means it’s vital that you treat a lot of the content on your site as the beginning of a conversation and not the end.
2. Backups. I know, it’s not exciting to think about but it’s important. I’ve heard too many stories of businesses being unable to trade because something happened and they didn’t have a backup of their site. Backups should be in multiple locations, automated and easily accessible. If the worst comes to the worst and you have to rely on it, you want to be able to get back up and running as quickly as possible. Don’t rely on your hosting company to take care of this for you, have your own backup process.
3. Not Being Mobile Ready or ‘Responsive’. Despite the fact that we all know that mobile device usage exceeds desktop, I still see people building their website with only desktop in mind. I have had clients tell me they hired me over my competition because my website works on mobile really well and they were researching on the train on their journey home. Your website simply has to work well across all devices. This means adapting the layout for smaller screens and making sure that everything loads quickly even on a poor cellular connection.
4. Security. We build our websites pretty much exclusively in WordPress. It’s flexible, it’s easy to use and it’s secure. However, it’s only as secure as you make it. The vast majority of WordPress exploits come from out of date plugins or using a version of WordPress itself that’s out of date. Most updates are to plug security holes so it’s really important to keep everything up to date. I’d also highly recommend installing the free plugin Wordfence. It has a very sophisticated (yet easy to use) firewall which keeps most nefarious types at bay. It goes without saying that you should have a strong password and try to avoid using “admin” as your username. Oh, one last security related thing. Your website needs an SSL certificate. What’s that? It makes sure the data that is transferred between your web server that hosts your website and the visitors web browser is encrypted. Web browsers are now starting to throw security errors at visitors if there’s no SSL certificate installed, even if your website is perfectly safe. Check with your hosting company for more info. Good hosting companies will provide you with a free certificate via Let’s Encrypt.
5. Speed. I touched on this earlier. In order to keep both Google and your visitors happy it’s really important that your site loads as fast as possible, especially from a mobile perspective. There’s a lot of variables here, starting with making sure the site was built correctly in the first place. However, your hosting company has an important role to play here too. For example, if your website is hosted in the USA but the majority of your visitors are in the UK, that’s obviously not ideal. A better option would be to make sure your website is hosted in the UK. An even better solution, which we always employ, is to utilise a Content Delivery Network (CDN) which distributes your website across many different locations across the world and then serves it via the closest connection to your visitor. Clever stuff.
6. 6? Didn’t I Say Five Tips? Yes, I did, well spotted, but alas I have one more bonus mistake. What is it? Analytics. As my good friend Linda Garcia always tells me “Richard, you can’t improve what you can’t track” It’s pretty simple to install Google Analytics on your website. It’s a bit like your TV remote control in that you don’t need 99% of the buttons but having a basic knowledge of how many people are visiting your site, what they are doing and how long they stay will help you to refine the content of your website over time. You do more of the stuff that’s working well and less of what isn’t but if you don’t have any data to back up your decisions you won’t be as effective as possible.
If all of this sounds like too much effort and you’d rather just get someone who actually enjoys this stuff (weirdos) then we can help.
To make sure that you’re maximising the benefit that a correctly functioning and effective website will bring you, we have put together a FREE website analysis.
We will take a look at your existing website from the ground up including:
Search Engine Optimisation
The outcome of this analysis will provide you with a range of actionable steps some of which you can implement straight away at no cost.
To get started, just give me a call on 0330 1025538 or email [email protected].